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Introduction

The following series of devotions relating to marriage are taken from, 44 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage, by evangelist  and pastor Dr. Jerry Drace.  He and his wife, Becky, have conducted approximately 300 Hope for the Home Conferences in churches throughout the United States and Great Britain.  As Dr. Drace states, “Some of the most fragile relationships we have encountered in our Hope for the Home Conferences are among the marriages of those on the church staff.  Having been a ‘preacher’s kid’ all my life I know how important it is that we who preach, teach and sing about the family apply those biblical principles in our own marriages.”   

If you are interested in obtaining a copy, or copies of, 44 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage, you may contact Dr. Drace at: jdeainc@juno.com.

Devotion 1 – Care for Your Spouse

 If I were to ask you, “What is the opposite of love”? You would probably say, “Hate”.  Most people think of love and hate being the extreme opposites.  However, in listening to couples whose marriages are coming apart at the seams I am convinced the opposite of love is indifference.  Love and hate are intense feelings and emotions.  Indifference, however, is a suspended state of all feelings. It neither loves nor hates. This says to the other spouse, “I could care less if you fell off the face of the earth” as one hurting husband shared with me.

Whether you call it indifference, or apathy these tepid responses to a spouse are an unspoken statement the marriage is in deep trouble.  The antidote for this poison is care. When you care for your spouse you are concerned about every area of their life for as long as you both shall live. The excitement of the heart pounding love of the dating days and the intensity of emotions of the engagement days will not be sufficient to carry you through the weathered years of marriage. Care transcends feelings which are based on emotions and stands firm in the face of any and all forces which would seek to undermine your marriage. 

After reading together, Song of Solomon 8:6-7, and Ephesians 5:29,  ask your spouse how you  both can guard your marriage from falling into the trap of mediocrity and indifference. 

Devotion 2 – Consider Your Spouse Over Others

How often have you been in a situation where you observed a spouse being neglected? It may have been at a social affair, church service, or sporting event, nevertheless the pain of being slighted was registered on their face. Very few things in life make an individual feel more unloved and unwanted than being overlooked by the person they are with, especially if it is their spouse. Make sure your spouse is included in every introduction. Make him or her feel they are a vital part of your every day experiences.  The one you always wanted to be with should always be the one you want to be with. Do not allow a friend or group of friends to gradually take you away from the one that took you away from them in the first place.  As one wife stated, “My husband wants me with him at all his social functions and gatherings because I am attractive and a good listener. However, he never includes me personally in his conversation with others. I might just as well be in another room.” 

 After reading together Proverbs 5:15, and  John 15:12, ask your spouse to share the last time they felt neglected or left out (do not defend yourself). Talk about the activities which brought you together in the first place.  Plan one of those events again, just the two of you.

This series of devotions relating to marriage are taken from, 44 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage, by evangelist and pastor Dr. Jerry Drace.  If you are interested in obtaining a copy, or copies of the entire book you may contact Dr. Drace at: jdeainc@juno.com.

Devotion 3 – Trust Each Other

What is the opposite of trust?  Simple, it is distrust. When spouses do not trust each other the relationship reverts back to high school dating.  Remember you would always ask the object of your infatuation who did they sat by at lunch, who did they talk to after class, who did they see at the mall? All the “who” questions are like a flock of geese always pecking at your heels. After awhile it gets annoying. If you do not trust your husband or wife you cannot have a solid marriage. It is like trying to live in a brick house without any mortar between the bricks. It will only stand until you slam a door or a strong wind blows up.

Just as trust in Jesus brings God greater glory than anything else you can provide, so does trust in one’s spouse. Trust is earned. It can be neither demanded, nor dictated.  C. S. Lewis stated, “To love involves trusting the beloved beyond the evidence, even against much evidence.”  Trust walks hand-in-hand with faith.  When the vows are exchanged the foundation of trust is laid on which the house of marriage will be built. The only way to make sure that house will remain standing is to never crack the foundation.  

After reading together Proverbs 31:11, and I Peter 4:8, share with your spouse the meaning of, “Trust”.  Reread the statement by C.S. Lewis and talk about its significance in your marriage.       

 This series of devotions relating to marriage are taken from, 44 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage, by evangelist and pastor Dr. Jerry Drace.  If you are interested in obtaining a copy, or copies of the entire bookyou may contact Dr. Drace at: jdeainc@juno.com.

Devotion 4 – Promote Each Other’s Spiritual Growth

When most couples return from their honeymoon their thoughts are seldom on spiritual matters. Before you know it all the new requirements have crowded out the most essential and that is the spiritual growth of the marriage. The Bible is still the greatest handbook on the “How To’s” of marriage.  It will get you through the first year and carry you through as long as you both shall live. You should begin each day together with a verse of scripture and a prayer. It is more important than breakfast because it will feed you throughout the day. You should end each day with a verse of scripture and a prayer.  It is more important than sex because it will satisfy you throughout the entire night.

A balanced marriage is like an equilateral triangle. One side is the sexual. One side is the sensual or emotional. The foundational side is the spiritual.  A couple I once counseled had not been sexually intimate for several years yet was in church every Sunday.  The husband shared that his wife had no desire for the sexual side of the triangle model and the sensual side was practically non- existent as well.  In this case the spiritual foundation was one sided and as a result the marriage was under a great deal of strain to say the least.  God told Adam and Eve to, “Be fruitful and multiply.” He did not say, “Be spiritual and subtract.”  To deny the necessity of any side of the triangle is to create a polygon which is unbalanced.         

After reading togetherI Samuel 1:19a, and Romans 14:19, discuss the triangle model of marriage with your spouse.  Is there balance in each of the three sides?  

This series of devotions relating to marriage are taken from, 44 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage, by evangelist and pastor Dr. Jerry Drace.  If you are interested in obtaining a copy, or copies of the entire book you may contact Dr. Drace at: jdeainc@juno.com.

Devotion 5 – Submission Begins With the Husband

Most husbands will tell you they are the head of their homes whether it is true or not. As one husband said, “If you don’t believe that I am the head of my house ask my wife. She told me I was.”  Being at the front of the pack doesn’t necessarily qualify you to be the lead dog.  Leadership is earned; especially spiritual leadership.  The Bible gives great insight into the man named Noah.  It tells us he was, “just, perfect in his generations, and walked with God,” Genesis 6:9. This means he was upright and honest. He was a man of moral integrity. He was a husband and father who consistently pleased God.  In other words, Noah earned the right to be the head of his family and ark.  If a husband must shout at his wife to get his point across and bark at his children to obtain their obedience, then basically all you have is a loud husband who acts like a dog.

Submission is one of the most misunderstood words in all of Holy Scripture. It has been used to bring “the little wife” into subjection and “the little urchins” into servitude.  Submission as found in Ephesians 5:22 means volunteer submission based on a commitment to proper order.  Man was created to be guided from his head and woman was created to be guided from her heart.  It is when these principles are reversed that trouble arises in the home.  Submission is not a principle on which to vote. It is a discipline to be practiced.  It is much like sky diving.  You either pull the rip cord or you don’t.

After reading together Genesis 6:9, and Ephesians 5:22-33,  share with your spouse the meaning of submission in today’s culture.  Is there any area in your marriage where submission is a real challenge?  If so, share this with your spouse in a caring, loving way.    

 This series of devotions relating to marriage are taken from, 44 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage, by evangelist and pastor Dr. Jerry Drace.  If you are interested in obtaining a copy, or copies of the entire bookyou may contact Dr. Drace at: jdeainc@juno.com.

Devotion 6 – Encourage Your Spouse to Spread Their Wings

A bird which never flies is never seen or heard.  The same applies to an individual who never leaves the nest of complacency for the world of wonder.  The “Wish I Had’s” will be of little comfort when the days turn into weeks and the weeks into years and we look into the rear view mirror of life only to have regrets for the things we did not attempt.  Encourage your spouse to become all God created them to be by helping them spread their wings and take flight.  

After forty-one years of marriage I encouraged Becky to go back to college and finish her degree which she started all those years ago.  Not only did she complete her undergraduate degree with honors, she finished at the top of her class in her Master’s studies of Christian Social Work.  She has been flying ever since. 

After reading together 1:27, and I Thessalonians 5:11, ask your spouse if there is something they have always wanted to attempt then encourage them to spread their wings and leave the nest.        

This series of devotions relating to marriage are taken from, 44 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage, by evangelist and pastor Dr. Jerry Drace.  If you are interested in obtaining a copy, or copies of the entire bookyou may contact Dr. Drace at: jdeainc@juno.com.

Devotion 7 – Compliment Your Spouse in Public

A word of praise and appreciation for your spouse in front of others not only affirms them, but speaks volumes about the strength of your marriage. There is nothing more uplifting and inspiring than to hear your name spoken by your spouse in complimentary terms.  Remember your dating days. You could not say enough sweet things about the object of your love. The same should be true after marriage. Words, while small, carry such great weight.

Solomon knew the importance of a well intended word when he told his children, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver,” Proverbs 25:11. Words of praise will take your marriage farther and keep it sweeter longer than all the gifts you can purchase.  It is not the classical words which wives love to hear. It is the romantic words like diamonds, emeralds, pearls, rubies, and sapphires.  If you can’t afford to purchase these little sparkling words, do what I do, show her a picture of these jewels and tell her that if you could you would buy her one of each but even then they would not excel her beauty.    

After reading together Proverbs 31:10-31, and Philippians 1:3, make a list of ten words which you feel describe your best qualities. Then swap lists with each other. Memorize each other’s top ten and begin to use those words of praise at home and in public.  The benefits will be amazing.   

This series of devotions relating to marriage are taken from, 44 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage, by evangelist and pastor Dr. Jerry Drace.  If you are interested in obtaining a copy, or copies of the entire bookyou may contact Dr. Drace at: jdeainc@juno.com.

Devotion 8 – Be Willing to Apologize

I once had a secretary who said her father never apologized to anyone even when he knew he was wrong. He once went six weeks without speaking to her mother until she apologized for what was clearly his fault.  When an individual will never apologize and admit they are sorry for their actions there is one word to describe this person, “Sorry”.  This type of spouse will eventually become alienated from everyone who ever loved him or her and in all likelihood end up living alone in the winter years of life. 

The mature spouse will accept responsibility for the hurt and the healing of the relationship. The road of marriage will not always be well paved and straight. There will be curves, detours, footpaths, mountain passes, trails, and tunnels which must be negotiated.  It is so easy in our society to just forsake one journey for another; one spouse for another. The destination is well worth the effort and the directions found in God’s word will never lead you astray. A sincere apology will lead to redemption which will bring about restoration. Better is a marriage restored than one destroyed. 

 After reading together Isaiah 5:21, and James 4:10, ask yourself is there anything for which you need to apologize to your spouse or perhaps your children?  If healing needs to take place in your marriage, this is the place to start.

This series of devotions relating to marriage are taken from, 44 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage, by evangelist and pastor Dr. Jerry Drace.  If you are interested in obtaining a copy, or copies of the entire bookyou may contact Dr. Drace at: jdeainc@juno.com.

Devotion 9 – Be Willing to Forgive

How often has one spouse said to another, “I forgive you”, only to bring up the past occurrence at some future date?  A husband related to me about his wife’s infidelity, “I told her I forgave her.  I buried the hatchet, but I did not bury the handle.  Every time we got into an argument I pulled out the past.”  We do not fully forgive until the handle is buried.  “I forgive you”, is one of the most powerful expressions a human can extend toward another.  It is often pride and self- centeredness which prevents the guilty party from accepting this priceless gift. 

Forgiveness is a choice.  Forgiveness will make you better. The opposite will make you bitter.  A young wife shared with me that she found her husband and her best friend in bed together in their own home. For two years she plotted his murder in such a way that no one would find out who committed the crime.  One morning as she was looking in the mirror putting on her make-up she took an intense look at her face. She said that hate lines had developed around her eyes. Deep wrinkles had formed around her lips.  She had aged almost ten years in just that short period of time.  She said with tears flowing down her cheeks, “I realized I was so full of hate and bitterness that the only one I was killing was myself.”   Forgiveness has five excellent benefits.  They are on page forty-one in my book.

After reading together Psalm 86:5,and Romans 12:19, do you need to extend forgiveness to your spouse?  If so, get alone together and share your willingness to extend this greatest of all Christian virtues. The true test of forgiveness is that once it is extended it is never rescinded. 

This series of devotions relating to marriage are taken from, 44 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage, by evangelist and pastor Dr. Jerry Drace.  If you are interested in obtaining a copy, or copies of the entire bookyou may contact Dr. Drace at: jdeainc@juno.com.